Lafarge Cement says it may invest up to $250 million towards setting up a new cement manufacturing plant. However, for now, the company is still looking for feasible limestone deposits.
Chief executive Mrs Amal Tantawi told The Herald Business that plans to set up a new plant were ongoing.
“We have so far identified one limestone deposit to help feed the plant and the company continues to look for more deposits. Feasibility studies are being conducted on the long-term projects and we hope this will see our business growing in the future,” said Mrs Tantawi.
A team of technical experts is expected in the country in September this year as the company is focusing on expanding its capacity.
However, efforts are being made to choose the right location for the plant.
“The total investment cost required to set up the plant is usually about $250-300 million which is a rough estimate because at the moment we don’t know what the land looks like, the type of equipment required, the availability of the limestone and its chemical composition.”
The setting of a new plant will involve importation of state of the art technology to meet rising demand for cement on the local and export markets.
She said there is a budget allocated by the group for the Sub-Saharan African region which would be utilised whenever a feasibility study for any project is ready.
Mrs Tantawi said funds were going to be availed after ascertaining that Lafarge Zimbabwe has the limestone, the location, and also when it is clear that all regulatory procedures are completed. When the feasibility file is ready it will be submitted to the group for approval.
Meanwhile Lafarge is expected to increase production to 500 000 tonnes per annum once current plant upgrade is complete. Lafarge is currently operating at about 70 percent capacity utilisation producing 370 000 tonnes per annum.
Mrs Tantawi said a lot is being done to ensure that the company remains one of the leading cement manufacturers in the country.
Lafarge has spent about $5 million on plant refurbishments over the past five years and focus is now on improving capacity of the existing plant.
The investment is part of the company’s short-term projects to increase volumes of cement despite the prevailing tight liquidity challenges.
In the short-term the company is focusing on refurbishing the existing plant as there is a lot of potential to produce more volumes to satisfy the local and the export market.